We Care For Our Commons

K, 1, 2

This lesson explores the difference volunteers make in our world. The children recognize that even they can volunteer and make a difference in their community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Thirty-Forty Minute Class Period
The learner will:
  • describe how volunteers and children can make a difference in a community.
  • illustrate how communities can change through volunteer efforts.
  • Recording of This Land Is Your Land (see Bibliographic References)
  • The book This Land Is Your Land (see Bibliographic References)
  • Large sheets of construction paper
  • Crayons, markers, colored pencils
  • Guthrie, Woody and Arlo Guthrie. This Land Is Your Land. Rounder Kids C8050. Rounder Records Corp., 1997.
  • Guthrie, Woody and Kathy Jakobsen. This Land Is Your Land. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Play the song "This Land Is Your Land" and sing along, using the book as a guide if you like.

  2. Refer to the two pages in This Land Is Your Land that begin with "In the shadow…" These two pages portray a broken down community. Ask: What has happened? Why does it look like this? Accept reasonable answers. What could be done to improve this place?
  3. Turn to the two pages that begin with "Nobody living can ever stop me." Show the difference by flipping the pages back and forth between the two pictures. Let the learners contrast what they see. If students do not mention it, note that in the second picture children are helping. "You don't have to be big to make a big difference."
  4. Have children point out the different jobs the people are doing to improve their community. Let the learners decide if the people are getting paid to fix up their neighborhood. They should conclude that they are volunteers who are giving of their time and talent and that people can make a difference when they care about their "commons" and help each other.
  5. Instruct students to fold a large sheet of construction paper in half. On one side draw a community that has lots of needs. People aren't taking care of it. On the other side draw the same community where people have volunteered their time and talent to make a better place for everyone.
Assessment will be made on teacher's observation of learner participation and completion of the assignment.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.